INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who has never been one to bite his tongue when it comes to expectations, made a "promise" Saturday that his organization will win another Super Bowl.
"It will happen," Irsay said. "I promise you it will. I have never felt so certain about something in my life."
The Colts haven't won a Super Bowl since after the 2006 season and haven't been back to it since losing to New Orleans in Super Bowl XLIV. But what gives Irsay confidence that the Colts will win their second title is that the franchise is finally on steady ground with general manager Chris Ballard, coach Frank Reich and quarterback Andrew Luck.
That couldn't always be said.
Luck missed 26 games over a three-season stretch due to a right shoulder injury. Former general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano feuded to the point that Irsay fired Grigson after the 2016 season and Pagano after the 2017 season.
Last season, Luck finished second in the NFL with 39 touchdown passes, second only to NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes' 50. Ballard and Reich helped the franchise weather a 1-5 start to finish 10-6 and make the playoffs for the first time since the 2014 season. The Colts lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC divisional playoff round.
"It's really good when things are running smooth," Irsay said. "It's no secret what it was with Ryan and Chuck, two men I think the world of, two really talented guys, but for whatever reason there was some clashing that meant a lot of time on my part to resolve, and ultimately we moved into what we are in the present day. It's a beautiful thing. I can't deny it. As an owner, when you have a great piece of harmony -- I just have a certainty in my heart that this organization is going to bring a parade and that Lombardi Trophy is going to be risen again."
This isn't the first time Irsay has spoken about winning the Super Bowl again. He said during the league owners meetings in March that he would like his franchise to win "three [Super Bowls] in a row."
No team in the Super Bowl era has won three straight.
"When I said three in a row, that's because how can you get up and go to work without accepting wanting to be the absolute best? No other thinking makes any sense to me," Irsay said.
Expectations are high in Indianapolis despite the franchise signing only two outside free agents -- defensive end Justin Houston and receiver Devin Funchess -- even though Indianapolis had more than $100 million in salary-cap space, an NFL high. Irsay wants the Colts to finish as one of the top two seeds in the AFC so they will play at least one game at home and have to win only two games in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl.
Luck, 29, is currently enjoying his first injury-free offseason since 2015, the entire starting offensive line from last season is under contract, and the Colts used seven of their first eight picks in this year's draft to select defensive players to help a unit that was led by All-Pro rookie linebacker Darius Leonard and finished 11th overall last season.
"I have the vision that the Indianapolis Colts are going to be known as one of the greatest franchises that ever existed," Irsay said. "For us to do that we need to be generationally successful, and we're on to the new generation. There's no secret about that. I don't think anything sets up better for us. However, it's still hard to win in this league."